Not all cannabis is safe. 
Some contaminants can kill you.


An Open Letter to the Washington State Cannabis Community

Pesticide poisoning can be fatal, as can exposure to microbiological organisms like E. coli or Aspergillus sp. for an immunosuppressed patient. We know that cannabis products sometimes contain these contaminants. Yet some certified laboratories in Washington State have recently been shown to still be approving them for sale. You might ask, how is this possible? Isn’t the State watching over the suppliers and the supply chain? The answer is that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and some labs have been found to have even falsified test results to help their clients get unsafe products to market. 

A recent third-party audit of certified i502 laboratories identified Steep Hill as one of the top labs in Washington. While that does make us proud, we don’t view that as a sign of perfection. We are obligated to offer consumers the assurance of knowing that any product tested by Steep Hill is a product that is clean and safe. Proper science requires investment and commitment. Only certain labs have accepted this responsibility - and we’re happy to stand at the forefront of consumer safety alongside other top-notch Washington test labs like Trace Analytics. Together we are here to uphold the highest standards of quality in the cannabis industry - and we can’t all succeed if other laboratories willfully invite contaminated cannabis onto dispensary and recreational market shelves. 

At Steep Hill, we’ve put our focus into equipment and processes that provide accuracy and safety in all our testing. When it comes to microbiological contaminants, we choose to use instruments from leading innovators trusted by FDA-approved biotech and pharmaceutical groups who demand the same level of traceability and meticulousness as we do. In the immediate future, an upgrade to our pesticide equipment will ensure that we reach the lowest achievable limits of detection during analysis. From there, we’re going to put pressure on the regulators to clamp down on labs who focus more on profits than consumer safety, and we ask you help raise our collective voices together to demand for consumer safety. 

We’re dedicated to preventing any contaminated cannabis from putting any consumer in harm’s way, and we wanted to take the time to tell you that Steep Hill is actively perfecting our expertise, while working with the best partners in the business, to keep you safe. 

In safety and health,

Jmîchaeĺe Keller
CEO, Steep Hill Labs


Stand up for your safety


How to Read Laboratory Reports


Pesticides are reported in parts per billion or parts per million, depending on the present level of concentration. While some labs report whether or not they detect the presence of the contaminant, known as screening, we believe the producer should know exactly how much of each pesticide is present in their product to help them make educated improvements in their work flow.

Microbiological Contaminants

On the lab report, microbiological contaminants are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs) per gram. On the recreational side of the cannabis industry, regulations put the max microbial count at 100,000 CFU/g for flowers; 100,000 CFU/g for edibles, concentrates and tinctures. Yeast and Mold shouldn’t exceed 10,000 CFU/g in any cannabis product; and no product should ever contain any salmonella or e.coli to be considered fit for sale.


Microbiological Organism and the Risks of Exposure


Aspergillus is a genus that includes a few hundred different mold species, 60 of which are labeled as medical pathogens. 

Result of Exposure
Exposure to aspergillus may result in aspergillosis, which involves the following potential symptoms: pneumonia, sinus infection, cough, runny nose, fatigue, fever, chest pain, breathlessness, and aspergilloma (which involves the formation of a “fungus ball” in places like the lungs). 

Read more About Aspergillosis


Salmonella are rod-shaped bacteria known to be intracellular pathogens, meaning they are parasitic and capable of reproducing in the host’s body once infested.

Result of Exposure
Exposure to salmonella may result in salmonellosis, which involves the following potential symptoms: diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, dehydration, Reiter’s syndrome, or chronic arthritis.

Read more About Salmonellosis


This genus includes 191 different species; interestingly enough, an article in Scientific American, states that pseudomonas is responsible for facilitating ice crystals in clouds, and thus play a vital role in snow and rain formation around the world.

Result of Exposure
Exposure to pseudomonas may result in pneumonia, a cough, a fever, fatigue, the chills, or in more serious cases, shock.

Read more about Pseudomonas

E. Coli

A large and diverse group of rod-shaped bacteria, some of which live peacefully in our intestines. 

Result of Exposure
Exposure to e.coli may cause bloody diarrhea, anemia, kidney failure, severe abdominal cramps, or vomiting.

Read more about E. Coli


Pesticides and the Risks of Exposure

The lab tests 173 different pesticides, including 206 banned products like Eagle 20. Some of these products are known neurotoxins and carcinogens.

Pesticide Toxicity Comparisons → 

Result of Exposure
Depending on the level of concentration, exposure to pesticides could result in slowed reflexes, irritability, nervousness, headache, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, restlessness, nausea, diarrhea, cramps, trembling, blurred vision, or difficulty breathing.

Read more about symptoms related to pesticides


Feel free to ask us questions below

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Further Reading

Testing Cannabis for Contaminants
- Paul Daley, Ph.D., David Lampach, Savino Squerra

A Closer Look at Cannabis Testing 
Scott Kuzdzal, Ph.D., Robert Clifford, Ph.D., Paul Winkler and Will Banker

Pesticide User on Cannabis 
- Published by the Cannabis Safety Institute


Partial list of brands that test exclusively with us in Washington